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  • News

    Rainwater can help trigger earthquakes

    Where it rains, it rumbles. Rainwater and snowmelt help fuel intense earthquakes along a New Zealand tectonic fault, new research suggests.

    Tracing the source of water flowing through New Zealand’s Alpine Fault shows that more than 99 percent of it originated from precipitation, researchers report April 19...

    05/03/2016 - 11:00 Earth, Climate
  • Feature

    How alien can a planet be and still support life?

    Just how fantastical a planet can be and still support recognizable life isn’t just a question for science fiction. Astronomers are searching the stars for otherworldly inhabitants, and they need a road map. Which planets are most likely to harbor life? That’s where geoscientists’ imaginations come in. Applying their knowledge of how our world works and what allows life to flourish, they are...

    04/19/2016 - 13:00 Planetary Science, Earth, Astrobiology
  • News

    Most diamonds share a common origin story

    Even top-caliber diamonds aren’t perfect. And their imperfections are finally settling a debate about the origins of the gem-quality diamonds used in jewelry.

    Previously, scientists had an explanation only for how cloudy and impurity-ridden fibrous diamonds form. Those diamonds crystallize inside fluid pockets deep within the Earth that contain compounds called carbonates. Carbonate-...

    04/11/2016 - 07:00 Earth, Chemistry
  • News

    Sea levels could rise twice as fast as previously predicted

    Antarctica’s meltdown could spur sea level rise well beyond current predictions. A new simulation of the continent’s thawing ice suggests that Antarctic melting alone will raise global sea levels by about 64 to 114 centimeters by 2100, scientists report in the March 31 Nature.

    Adding Antarctic melt to other sources of sea level rise, such as the expansion of warming seawater and...

    04/06/2016 - 07:00 Climate, Oceans, Earth
  • Introducing

    One of Earth’s missing minerals found locked inside meteorite

    The last of a group of dense minerals that make up much of Earth’s crust and upper mantle has been found tucked inside a meteorite that slammed into Australia 135 years ago. The newly discovered mineral, a variety of majorite, is potentially abundant in sinking tectonic plates and could help illuminate the behavior of the deep Earth, its discoverers say.

    Each identical component of this...

    03/29/2016 - 12:30 Earth
  • News in Brief

    Quake risk in parts of central U.S. as high as in fault-filled California

    Northern Oklahoma is just as susceptible to a damaging earthquake within the next year as the most quake-prone areas of California. That’s because earthquakes are no longer just a natural hazard, the U.S. Geological Survey says. In its new quake hazards forecast released March 28, the agency for the first time has included...

    03/28/2016 - 18:00 Earth
  • News in Brief

    Beware of rockfalls in warm weather

    As the weather warms, watch for falling rocks. While monitoring a cracked cliff in Yosemite National Park, researchers watched the fissure widen as temperatures rose. The risk of rockfalls could increase as climate change cranks the thermostat, one scientist predicts.

    For three and a half years, geologists Brian Collins of the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, Calif., and Greg Stock...

    03/28/2016 - 11:00 Earth, Climate
  • News

    CO2 shakes up theory of how geysers spout

    View the video

    Monitoring the innards of Yellowstone’s gurgling geysers, scientists report in two new studies  that carbonation helps the geysers erupt like shaken cans of soda.

    During the buildup to an eruption of Yellowstone’s Spouter Geyser, carbon dioxide accumulates in the...

    03/21/2016 - 07:00 Earth
  • News

    Antarctic history suggests ice sheet ‘danger’ threshold

    Assembling a detailed timeline surrounding the Antarctic ice sheet’s inception around 34 million years ago, scientists have identified a carbon dioxide “danger zone” for the ice sheet’s demise.

    Based on CO2 levels when the ice sheet formed, the researchers report that Antarctica’s ice will be “dramatically” more vulnerable to melting once...

    03/10/2016 - 14:00 Climate, Earth
  • News

    3.5 billion years ago, oceans were cool, not hot

    About 3.5 billion years ago, Earth’s oceans were cool, not inhospitably hot as previously thought. In fact, the entire planet at the time was probably locked in a cold snap that lasted at least 30 million years, a new study concludes. The findings, published online February 26 in Science Advances, could change the view...

    02/26/2016 - 14:09 Oceans, Climate, Earth